A creepily lifelike robot dog is finally going on sale later this year
- Boston Dynamics' Spot robotic dog is launching in a matter of months, the company said at Amazon's robotics conference.
- The robotic pup achieved viral fame for its lifelike movements after the company published a series of videos showing the machine undertaking mundane everyday tasks, like opening a door or loading a dishwasher, with realistic precision.
- The company has not revealed additional details such as how much the robot will cost or how it's intended to be used.
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Boston Dynamics' lifelike robotic dog has been in the spotlight ever since it appeared on video in 2015, but now the four-legged machine might finally be available for purchase in a matter of months.
The company appeared at Amazon's re:Mars conference to show off it's technology, and CEO Marc Raibert told The Verge that its Spot robot should be available within months.
Boston Dynamics did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for additional details about the robot's launch.
Boston Dynamics makes two dog-themed robots: the Spot Classic and its smaller successor, the SpotMini. The Verge's report doesn't specify whether Raibert was referring to the Mini model or the older version, but Quartz reported that SpotMini is expected to go on sale later this year, and TechCrunch previously said the Mini version was on track to be released in July.
Boston Dynamics' robotic pup is currently undergoing proof-of-concept testing in various environments, according to The Verge.
The company hasn't divulged and additional details, such as how much its robotic canine will cost. But Boston Dynamics previously said during a TechCrunch conference that only 100 bots will be available to purchase at launch, and that the prototype being tested in May was roughly 10 times less expensive to build than its predecessor, Gizmodo reported.
It's also unclear exactly how Boston Dynamics will pitch its Spot robot when selling it. The larger Spot Classic model is designed for both indoor and outdoor operation and uses LIDAR to sense tough terrain. It can carry a 23 kilogram payload, which could make it useful for work on construction sites and other scenarios that require navigating potentially dangerous terrain.
Situations such as these appear to be exactly what Boston Dynamics has in mind for Spot so far. Raibert said the company has a few paying customers so far, including a Japanese construction firm, and added that Boston Dynamics is looking into other ways in which its machines can be used in hostile work environments, according to The Verge.
The smaller SpotMini can be used within a home or office, according to Boston Dynamics, and can pick up and handle objects, unlike its older sibling. It's also the quietest robot Boston Dynamics has built, the company says.
Both robots have garnered much attention in recent years thanks to Boston Dynamics' videos. Now-famous footage introducing the Spot Classic shows how the mechanical pup stumbles when being kicked rather than falling over - similar to the way an actual animal would move in response. Spot Mini has accrued its own fame over the years after being filmed doing everything from autonomously navigating a lab facility to opening doors and loading a dishwasher.
In one video, an army of 10 SpotMini bots can be seen pulling a truck.
While construction work seems like an obvious use case for robots like Spot, Raibert also offered another, less-conventional idea: When speaking at Amazon's conference, he suggested the robot could be used as a sort of real-life video game in which players battle the bots against one another, according to Quartz.
Raibert has also said the machine is being beta tested at playgrounds in addition to construction sites, according to GeekWire editor Alan Boyle.
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